Transportation Expenses for Long-Distance Parenting under Tennessee Child Support and Parenting Plan Law
If you travel to visit your children, you know how important travel logistics are. What time is the exchange? Where? Gassing up is expensive. Flying requires compliance with the unaccompanied minor policy. And God forbid if someone is running late – how long are you required to wait on the other parent? It’s all stressful.
Negotiating travel expenses (costs of transporting the children for visitation) seems to be one of those items parents wait until the last minute to think about. But it can be very important and can be a large percentage of your monthly child support obligation. Parents should know that negotiating travel expenses is very important. Be armed with as much information as possible, especially with estimated costs of travel such as gasoline and typical airline ticket costs.
Judges will consider: which parent moved and why. Did an employer require the move? Did the moving parent move with the new spouse? Was the move made on a whim? The parent who moved may be asked to pay more of the visitation transportation costs than the other parent. Then judges consider cost. Is the high cost of travel for visitation going to prevent the traveling parent from seeing the child as often? If so, then what again was the reason for the move? Finally, most judges want to know the relative ability of the parties the pay. After having all of the facts, judges will usually rule in a way that makes practical sense because the Guidelines provide little limitation on judicial discretion. Often, judicial application of practical considerations and common sense leaves neither parent happy. Judges, however are more concerned with the children’s well-being, not the parents’ comfort.
The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines read, in part:
1240-2-4-.07 DEVIATIONS FROM THE CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES.
(2) Deviation from the Guidelines may be appropriate for reasons in addition to those previously established in 1240-2-4-.01 – .06 when the tribunal finds it is in the best interest of the child, in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (1) above and the following procedures: . . .
(c) If parenting time-related travel expenses are substantial due to the distance between the parents, the tribunal may order the allocation of such costs by deviation from the PCSO, taking into consideration the circumstances of the respective parties as well as which parent moved and the reason that the move was made.
Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, August 2008.
Memphis divorce attorney, Miles Mason, Sr., JD, CPA, practices family law exclusively with the Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC in Memphis, Tennessee. To learn more about Tennessee child support laws, read and view:
- Tennessee Child Support & Divorce Law Answers to FAQs
- How to Modify Child Support in Tennessee
- Tennessee Child Support Law Video Series
- Tennessee Child Support Resources
- Top 6 Tennessee Child Support Strategies